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MUSEUM:  
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Ship's Crew

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John Chattles

Rank(s): Able Seaman

Dates of Service: -

Early Life
John Chattles’ place and date of birth are unknown.

John Chattles joined Constitution’s crew as an able seaman on August 7, 1813. He was promoted to boatswain’s mate on December 1, 1814. In 1814, he had the watch assignment of starboard, the station assignment of main top, 2nd captain, and was assigned to no. 4 carronade, 1st captain as a part of the forecastle division.

The able seaman was the elite member of the crew. Having sailed for years “before the mast” on merchant vessels or worked his way up through the ranks in the navy, it was on him that the officers relied for the smooth operation of the ship. The traditional requirements for the seaman were that he be able to “hand (furl or take in a sail), reef (reduce a sail’s area), and steer,” but these were in fact the barest requirements for the seaman rating. In addition, they were expected to be familiar with nearly all aspects of shipboard labor. He had to be able to cast the sounding lead, be able to sew a sail with a palm and needle, and understand all parts of the rigging and the stowage of the hold. Furthermore, he had to know how to fight, as part of a gun crew or with small arms. It was from the ranks of the able seamen that the petty and warrant officers were drawn. The able seaman made $12.00 per month.

The boatswain’s mates were subordinate to the boatswain and aided him with his duties (see boatswain). They were specifically bidden to keep the men at their allotted tasks. Like the boatswain, they carried silver calls or whistles with which to give commands. Many boatswain’s mates carried short, knotted pieces of rope called “starters” or “colts” with which they would strike crew members who were slow or awkward in their duties. It was also the boatswain’s mates’ duty to flog malefactors (who were duly convicted) with the “cat-of-nine-tails.” Boatswain’s mates’ pay amounted to $19.00 per month.

Battles and Engagements
During his time on board, the ship made a war cruise capturing a small British man-of-war and three merchantmen. He participated in the battles with HMS Cyane and HMS Levant and received $126.93 in prize money.

On Mayv, 1815, Chattles was transferred to the prize ex-HMS Cyane. His place and date of death are unknown.


Crew ID

2578